OpenBuildingControl: Modeling Feedback Control as a Step Towards Formal Design, Specification, Deployment and Verification of Building Control Sequences

Publication Type

Conference Paper

Date Published




This paper presents ongoing work to develop tools and a process that will allow building designers to instantiate control sequences, configure them for their project, assess their performance in closed loop building energy simulation, and then export these sequences (i) for the control provider to bid on the project and to implement the sequences through machine-to-machine translation, and (ii) for the commissioning agent to verify their correct implementation.

The paper reports on the following: (i) The specification of a Control Description Language, (ii) its use to implement a subset of the ASHRAE Guideline 36 sequences, released as part of the Modelica Buildings library, (iii) its use in annual closed-loop simulations of a variable air- volume flow system, and (iv) lessons learned regarding simulation of closed-loop control.

In our case study, the Guideline 36 sequences yield 30% lower annual site HYAC energy use, under comparable comfort, than sequences published earlier by ASHRAE. The 30% differences in annual HYAC energy consumption due to changes in the control sequences raises the question of whether the idealization of control sequences that is common practice in today's building energy simulation leads to trustworthy energy use predictions.


2018 Building Performance Modeling Conference and SimBuild co-organized by ASHRAE and IBPSA-USA

Year of Publication